I published this article in a healing magazine years ago –
Years ago, someone came to me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She was the first person I had worked with with this debility. I was fascinated to read the flow of energy from her energy centres because they were so clear, so different and so illuminating to me. In a state of fainting, the flow of energy flattens out into a plate shape. After a car crash or in a state of shock, we feel very weak – and sometimes pass out altogether – because we are unable to draw in our life force through the energy centres. Instead of feeling like a small fountain, a spout, this person presented the flat plate energy centre. It came to me that her life was so awful because she was in a partial yet permanent (now habitual) state of semi-faint. This had been triggered by a terrible car crash and, somehow, she had never recovered her healthy energy flow.
And she was also the first person I had come across, who, in answer to everything I said, said, ‘Yes, but….’ I spent hours and hours of time with her, seemingly getting nowhere.
A dear friend who is a nursing sister, long used to the ways of people, said to me, “When someone answers what you say with ‘Yes, but’, stop talking immediately because there is nothing you can tell them!” I took me a long time to find out that she is right.
Many people live behind high buttresses of ‘Yes, buts’. They build the whole construction themselves. I call it a buttress not only because of the play on words but because all the ‘Yes, buts’ are in reality shoring up a very shaky inner being.
Every time we say ‘Yes, but’ we affirm to ourselves that our old idea is best and that the new idea being presented to us is okay to a degree but not entirely and so that is why we cannot follow it through into being a useful tool for our own change. For underlying all ‘Yes, buts’ is the principle of not wanting to change. Change is scary, it takes effort, it threatens the foundation of all that we have built up inside ourselves for our whole lives, that we have shored up and buttressed into our innermost part.
‘Yes, but ‘ takes on many forms.
There is the smiling ‘Yes, but’ of those dear beings who nod and smile, charmingly non committal. They would never say ‘Yes, but’ but they are with a smile.
There is the ‘Yes, but’ discusser. He says ‘Yes, but’ to you by presenting you with brilliant academic references and mental gymnastics in discussion. He will agree with everything said by everybody, throwing in phrases like “You must understand my position…” or “In this case I would – however….”
There are the attentive ‘Yes, butters’ who hang on every word being told them and end by assuring the counselor that of course every word is true – and when they have managed to sort out their own situations it is exactly what they will do!
There are the non attentive ‘Yes, butters’. Their buttresses are so tall they block out sound from the outer world and they simply glaze over or say, “Sorry, I didn’t catch that” or “I don’t understand – please explain some more”
I had a man see me for the four times that I requested. He seemed to understand how I work and that if he worked with me, he could rebuild the flow of his own energy centres by alterations to his life-style and thinking habits. He asked a lot of questions. He nodded and added really intuitive things. I was pleased, feeling understood. Yet, whenever he left, I felt drained. I couldn’t work this out – until the last session. On the last occasion, he kept me talking for two hours! It clicked that he was a monstrous ‘Yes, butter’ and yet he had never once actually said those words. How he did it, was to ask me to explain how I would apply my words to his life. When I suggested possible solutions he would then, in detail, elaborate on how he could do it until it sounded like a parody.
‘Yes, butters’ come in many different disguises, but are reasonably easy to unmask.
I have now learned that the moment a client or patient says ‘Yes, but’ in any of its disguises, I pull back. ‘Yes, but’ is a power game played by beings who have no intention of revamping any part of their illness or lives until it becomes too uncomfortable to bear. They are simply making a token action of seeing a therapist, healer or doctor and taking their energy and attention to boot! They waste their money and the therapists time.
‘Yes, but’ indicates that the time is not right.
The friend who told me about ‘Yes, but’ also told me a gem of a way to handle the situation. You simply say (with sincere and genuine compassion) “Well, I am truly sorry I can’t help you. I am here if you ever need me again. Maybe I will be able to give you the right solution another time.”
We all use ‘Yes, but’. I do it every time I am on shaky inner ground. It is a defense against a new idea that scares me or that I can’t feel comfortable with. It is a warning to the person I am with that the time is not right for me. And most of all, it is a sign to myself that I have some barrier – a buttress – to attend to.
‘Yes, but,’ is a judgmental mechanism. It indicates to myself that I have immediately judged, that I am not allowing a flow of new options and information to enrich me. ‘Yes, but’ is an immediate response and I am learning not to say it until I have weighed up the pros and cons in inner meditation.
Our buttresses can block out so much. Once, a visiting therapist from England gave me a piece of paper on which were ancient symbols. She explained that they were powerful and left it at that. I immediately said “Yes, but they look like Black Magic things to me.” She shrugged. (She probably knew about ‘Yes, but,’) I filed them away with loads of other stuff and have never thought of them again.
I have only recently discovered that these same symbols are connected with a healing discipline that I very much admire and are nothing to do with Black Magic. If only I hadn’t said ‘Yes, but,’ I might have learned a lot! Of course the time was not right. My buttress about occult things and Black Magic was so high I could not see over the top.
Every time we say ‘Yes, but’ we limit ourselves immediately and our buttress grows stronger. Buttresses are not free standing. They are firmly planted on the old. They simply prop up old stuff and do not allow for the growth of the new, lighter, buoyant non judgemental thinking processes that we need for the future.
If we transform our support system to the free standing flying buttresses like those that soar to the sky on the tops of medieval buildings, we will be allowing light and love, space and air to flow about us. And then we will simply be able to loosen our hold on the old and lift off into the new.